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The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome | [Susan Wise Bauer]

The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome

This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This narrative history employs the methods of "history from beneath" - literature, epic traditions, private letters, and accounts - to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled.
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Publisher's Summary

A lively and engaging narrative history showing the common threads in the cultures that gave birth to our own.

This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This narrative history employs the methods of "history from beneath" - literature, epic traditions, private letters, and accounts - to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled. The result is an engrossing tapestry of human behavior from which we may draw conclusions about the direction of world events and the causes behind them.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2007 Susan Wise Bauer (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Troy 04-28-14
    Troy 04-28-14

    I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fantastic Overview!"

    I find that in my studies of history, comprehensive and sweeping overviews are invaluable, both to help keep people and events in perspective, and to give me an idea of where I might want to dig deeper later on. I've gone through a number of such overviews over the years, though not one as ambitious as this one. From the mists of legend through to the fall of Rome as the title suggests, Bauer weaves together all of the broad strokes of human history in this time period. For the earlier accounts, history is extrapolated from mythology and archaeology, translating symbolism into human events. Another high point of praise is that most overviews like this will pick a single nation or perhaps a hemisphere. This covers East and West, putting the rise and fall of various dynasties on a timeline that allows the reader to compare and contrast in an way that I've not seen with such effectiveness. Bauer has similar titles for Medieval and Renaissance history, and I'm looking forward to connecting those stories as one larger tapestry.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen S. Wilds Silver Spring, MD USA 04-25-14
    Ellen S. Wilds Silver Spring, MD USA 04-25-14 Member Since 2011

    webmouse

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Historic Achievement"
    If you could sum up The History of the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

    Colourful, In-Depth, Informative


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Considering this book covers a vast portion of early human history it is impossible to assign particular value to a single character.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Picking just one episode is difficult, but the most memorable to me was the exchange between King Croesus of Lydia and King Cyrus of Persia on the night the Persians looted the fabled wealth of the Lydians. Noting that the defeated monarch was quiet as his city burned, Cyrus asked how he felt about losing his wealth in this manner. "It is not my wealth they are stealing," Croesus replied. "It is yours." Valuable insight into the nature of conquest even today.


    Any additional comments?

    Although my field is 19th century Victoriana, I have an interest in many periods of history, in particular the Aegean Bronze Age and the early Celts in Europe. This book blends ancient historical accounts, myths, legends, religious texts to weave a tapestry of early human history, including civilizations as diverse as Mesopotamia, India, China and Europe. It is a massive undertaking.

    I accept that accuracy is not always possible when the only texts available are those that have been translated, interpreted, and even deified. While experts may disagree on the finer points, the overall effort is worthy of credit. To keep all these many threads separate and clear is a mighty undertaking and I applaud the author for the attempt.

    No historical account can be perfect as new discoveries come to light all the time, from archeological digs and manuscript finds to revisions of classic literature. If we waited for historians to agree on the details, no history would ever be written. And that would be a great loss. This is a fine historical overview and what it lacks in depth is more than made up for in breadth.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christopher 04-10-14
    christopher 04-10-14
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    "A tour de force, almost"

    A remarkable piece of work which gives an extraordinary overview and manages give a taste of the subject matter without getting lost in the details. The last 400 years were a bit rushed but I don't think it was necessary to do that bit. The author could comfortably stopped with the effective establishment of the Roman Empire. Pace was generally speaking good - there were few places where I just wanted to get on with it. I have come away having learned a great deal and feel that an important contribution has been made to my already 67 year old education. Then also I have to say that while I found the reader's delivery irritating on occasion, his pronunciation of those middle eastern and Chinese names with I believe perfect consistency was amazing and, perhaps surprisingly, made its own independent contribution to my enjoyment of the book.
    So why "almost" ? Alright, I bought into the premise that while we have little in the way of historical documentation surviving from the three or four thousand years BC we do have myths and it is possible that within those myths there may lurk the kernel of the truth so why not let's pretend that they are actual history. So when we got to talking about David and his achievements, I could not help but recall a recent BBC documentary which argued with some force that the almost total lack of archaeological evidence for David's architectural accomplishments stongly suggests that the Biblical David is a construct designed with political intentions and with little real history behind it. Not that I believe everything that is put in front of me, but The History does at some level purport to be an academic work. The uncritical acceptance of the Biblical version of David suddenly made me a whole lot less inclined to accept myth as the basis for history, even with tongue in cheek.'
    Still, I doubt if there are many works around where the author demonstrates such a grasp of her subject matter, such an ability to put it into context and such a fund of well-selected material to illustrate her work..

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-19-15
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    "Great narration, difficult story "

    This is one instance where the talent of narrators makes a difficult book acceptable.
    The story is peppered with small account stories little pertinent in the grand scheme of things. But the narrator saves the day.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andreas 02-12-15
    Andreas 02-12-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Enchanting"

    I loved the way the book is read. Not to mention how the book is written... Recommended to everyone that has the slightest interest in history!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    george 10-24-14
    george 10-24-14 Member Since 2010
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    "More historical info than I knew existed."

    This is a great book for the history buff or student.

    It's always been about power and money - even murdering family members to get them.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dan 06-21-15
    dan 06-21-15

    t p prince esquire international-- Switzerland / USA --Author publisher of adult and children's literature.

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    "Great review of Ancient World History needs maps"

    An Excellent Ancient History Review but would be better with Outline. maps and illustrations in PDF to accompany the great lecture and make it easier to follow and understand.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zachariah 08-13-15
    Zachariah 08-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Well worth the time."

    The book can be difficult to get through, but it is well worth it because such a vast amount of information is contained within it .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 05-29-15
    James COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 05-29-15 Member Since 2010

    Jim Henderson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book, bad ending"

    I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about certain aspects of history I was weak on. In particular, I learned more about Rome, Egypt, and Babylon, but even more about various Chinese and Indian empires.

    The only downside of the book was the ending for two reasons:
    1) It picked an odd point to end. The title is, "... to the Fall of Rome." Most people consider the Fall of Rome to be o/a 476 AD. However, the author ends abruptly when Constantine accepts Christianity around 312 AD. I know of no one who considers that date or that event to represent the Fall of Rome. Either the title should have been different or it should have ended 150+ years later.

    2) It ended abruptly on all fronts. As far as Rome it ends with an ominous proclamation that, with Christianity, Rome was stronger for good and ill, but then doesn't really say anything about afterwards. For the rest of the world it's worse -- they end without any acknowledgement. The book really needs an epilogue for each of the empires/areas that we've been discussing for centuries, but there's NOTHING. It really feels as if the author wasn't going to make some deadline so just stopped what she was doing in mid sentence and skipped the outline for the last 100-200 years.

    The performance was good and generally worked well as far as transitions and descriptions go. However, as is so often the case, the lack of maps was occasionally annoying (though descriptions were good). Additionally, since we sometimes shifted focus between empires in mid-chapter, it could have used clearer transitions. I imagine that, in the book, this was obvious by pagination, headings, fonts, etc, but we could have used something like, "... And now, over in China ...."

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robinphx 05-28-15
    Robinphx 05-28-15
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    "Very good overall"

    It delivers exactly what you would expect. It covers too large a period to go into great detail, but you get a great understanding of what is happening in different parts of the world and how each rises and falls depending on the quality of leadership.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Anne
    Thetford, United Kingdom
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining and informative"
    What did you like most about The History of the Ancient World?

    I love Susan Wise Bauer's dry sense of humour, which crops up in the most unexpected places.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The book covers ancient civilisations around the world, based on stories, histories, writings on stones and bones ... and gives a clear insightful view of what can perhaps be considered 'true' history and what can't. There are some lovely insights into people's characters - my favourite being Zimri Lim and his relationship with his younger daughter.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    John Lee reads quietly and steadily, changing his voice subtly when he reads quotes.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • CP
    12/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great read for fans of history"
    If you could sum up The History of the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

    Engaging, fascinating, long.


    What other book might you compare The History of the Ancient World to, and why?

    Honestly, I have not quite read a book like it. It takes history, which is often bloody and confusing and made it accessible without sacrificing quality.


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    How to pronounce most of the names! They are quite complex and I would not have been able to manage otherwise.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I liked the mentions of women, and how their history was more than likely written by someone who had not bothered to check with them if it was actually correct.


    Any additional comments?

    Really good read for fans of history. I particularly liked the inclusion of China and India, usually books like this are painfully European-centric. I also enjoyed the discussion on the history of writing.

    Be warned this book is not really one for fans of social history, and the lives of everyday people. It concerns itself with rulers, wars and conquerers and their fights and deaths. Some mention is made of culture and traditions but the focus is elsewhere.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • missfrizzy
    5/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "First class writing. First class reading."

    Susan Wise Bauer's concise and witty summary of the story of the rise of civilisation through to the peak of the Roman Empire. John Lee's narration is superb - hearing him describe marriage to one's mother as "icky" made me chuckle.
    Why is the next volume on the Medieval World not available in the UK?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MR
    4/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detailed textbook"

    Ubiquitous narrator
    Overly detailed story

    Overall enjoyable but the constant empire building and falling ends up feeling irrelevant and the narrative could do with editing

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • david mccullagh
    4/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "very interesting"

    I thought this was a well thought out narrative that was well performed - very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    UK
    3/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Informative, witty and fascinating"

    I thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the ages, especially the earlier accounts. Would recommend this book to those with a fascination for ancient societies

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Will Allen
    3/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "covers a lot of ground"

    This book did a great job of giving a general overview of a vast period of history. Would be useful to readers trying to find a new specific subject that captures their interest. For me it was the Babylonians!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Robert Caister
    UK
    2/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent. Very enjoyable and very well read."

    A great place to start you historical journey and equally a very rewarding read for people who already have a solid grasp of the past.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kdl
    2/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating insight"

    An excellent book. I listen to it over and over again. We live in a complicated world yet the seeds were sown thousands of years ago. This book explains how great empires were born and evolved and eventually began to fall apart. Fully recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Bowers Gifford, United Kingdom
    12/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth a listen"

    Good detail and very interesting. I found it a little difficult to maintain interest as it was one chapter after another of similar dastardly goings on throughout history but that's more my issue than the books. Well read although long, I recommend and will at some point listen again as I think it deserves more than one read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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